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How the Brunel experience and placement year have helped pave the way for a career in law

How the Brunel experience and placement year have helped pave the way for a career in law

Christiane Sungu

A year in industry was something I considered invaluable in the competitive field that is law, as anything that could demonstrate my commitment to the profession before even graduating could only be an advantage for me.

Christiane, Undergraduate, Alumni

Trainee Solicitor, Law firm

Law LLB - 2017

From Democratic Republic of Congo

Previous Institution

Luton Sixth Form College - A Levels

Which country do you currently live in?

UK

Tell us about your educational and/or career journey since you graduated from Brunel?

Since graduating from Brunel, I spent the first two years working as a Paralegal before taking the step to return back to education and complete the LPC and LLM at law school. Following the gruelling year of law school, I started my training contract a few months later and am now on track to becoming a qualified Solicitor by 2023.

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

Being a Trainee Solicitor means a typical day of work involves getting up and checking my emails to see if anything’s come in overnight or first thing. I then have a video call with my team where we check in with one another and then I begin actioning said things from my inbox. I’ll take a break for lunch, and in the afternoon, I usually have more work to do that’s come in throughout the morning. It usually involves the preparation of a key document for a matter, processing something to move a matter along, or jumping on a client call to discuss next steps on their matter. I also try to fit in a virtual coffee break with a fellow trainee or another colleague. I’ll finish off more work or training in the afternoon, complete all of my admin and time-recording, then log off for the day.

What’s been the highlight of your career journey so far?

As a self-confessed hair enthusiast, the highlight of my career so far has been being able to organise an event at my law firm relating to afro hair. The firm made a pledge to the ‘Halo Code’ and during the Race Equality Week, I co-organised a ‘lunch and learn’ event to delve deeper into the history of afro hair and why it was important for companies and schools to champion the rights of black individuals to embrace and wear all types of afro-hairstyles. It was great fun and an amazing opportunity to talk about something close to my heart.

How would you say your Brunel experience has helped you to get where you are today?

I honestly believe that the experience I gained from my degree and placement year set me in good stead for my career in law. In fact, I think it set me in good stead for a career in any field. The beauty of studying law is that there is much more to the transferable skills you gain rather than the particular subject areas you learn about. An ability to dissect complex information, form an analysis, and articulate your opinion clearly is invaluable in any role.

Why did you choose to study at Brunel and why would you recommend Brunel to others?

I chose Brunel for my undergraduate degree as it was one of the few universities actively encouraging professional placements to law students. For me, a year in the industry was something I considered invaluable in the competitive field that is law, as anything that could demonstrate my commitment to the profession before even graduating could only be an advantage for me. I also liked the location of Brunel. By being a campus-based university, there was a great tight-knit community feel, yet, you also felt the lively city atmosphere of a typical student in London city, providing you with the best of both worlds.

What is your best memory of studying here?

My best memory of studying at Brunel was in my final year, where I had the chance to travel to Athens with nine of my classmates from my International Human Rights class. We spent a week volunteering at a refugee camp and meeting with important and influential people within Athens. Ahead of our trip, we fundraised money in order to make donations to the refugee camp and we also vlogged about our time whilst out there. The video of our trip was shared with our school department, and when I got back I had the chance to present about our trip at an event called ‘Celebrating Women in Law’ alongside the then President of the Law Society! Those are things that you never forget.

If you could give one piece of advice to current Brunel students, what would that be?

My one piece of advice to current Brunel students is that university is too expensive to not make the most out of it. Put yourself forward for all the extra-curricular activities, clubs and societies that you can and make sure to get as much of a variety of experiences as you can. There are also so many resources and departments that are around to make your life much easier, such as the Professional and Development Centre, welfare teams, and librarians, who are always willing to help. I learnt to make the most of everything, and to always ask for help if I needed it!

What would be your top tip or key advice for new graduates as they begin their career journey after leaving Brunel?

My top tip would be to remember that there’s no one set path. I thought that after my undergraduate degree, I’d go straight to law school, get a training contract and qualify as a lawyer by 24. It hasn’t worked out that way but honestly the journey has been something else. And through the ups and downs, I’ve learnt to be open to change, enjoy the journey and keep my faith. Sometimes the journey itself ends up being more fun than the end point!

#IamBrunel

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